November 16th, 2021

When will the inquiry into the approval process for new drugs and medical technologies be handed down?

London Agency understands the findings from the Health, Aged Care and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the approval process for new drugs and novel medical technologies will be tabled in the final parliamentary sitting weeks of the year (November 22- 2 December).

It is one of the most eagerly anticipated health reports of the 21st century for industry. The Chair of the inquiry, Trent Zimmerman MP, has called it a “significant body of work” for which the committee is “proud of”.

Stakeholders including patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, peak bodies, and health and clinical trial centres gave evidence.

The committee met last week to finalise recommendations. Deputy Chair of the committee, Dr Mike Freelander MP, told London Agency that he is “extremely happy” with the progress made to date.

 “Throughout this extensive inquiry, we’ve heard valuable feedback from both industry and patient bodies, and this feedback has ultimately guided our report’s findings,” he said.

“It was a huge report, and I know that there will be some areas that industry may feel the recommendations could have been more definitive, but I think it is a very good framework for the future of medicines policy and device approvals in Australia and a good framework for new technologies.

“I hope that all our recommendations are acted upon, and I thank the Chair, Trent Zimmerman, for his always open, considered and inclusive approach. I also wish to thank the other members of the committee on all sides of politics for their extremely hard work and collegiate approach to health policy. I’d also like to thank my friends in industry and in patient advocacy groups for the amazing efforts they’ve made to contribute to what was in the end a very productive inquiry.

“Our recommendations are aimed at addressing shortfalls that presently exist in the medicines and assistive technologies approval process, with the goal of ultimately improving patient outcomes and the patient experience.

“Too often, the views and needs of the patient are overlooked. Over my many years in medicine, I came to appreciate the significance of the patient perspective – and often in my field of paediatrics, the parents’ perspective.

“The needs of the patient ought to always come first, and it is crucial that we strengthen our healthcare system to ensure that all patients are provided with a voice.

“More often than not, the aims of industry and patients are aligned – and the government must act to remove obstacles that are at odds with the patient’s needs.

“Without going into too much detail with the report still in the draft stage, people ought to expect a comprehensive report with recommendations that aim to streamline the approvals process as well as improve the accessibility and availability of medicines.”

Another committee member told us privately that it will be one of the “biggest pieces of health reform of the last 20 years”, but that industry might feel some of the findings won’t go far enough.

Further information about the inquiry including the full terms of reference are also available on the Committee’s website.


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